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Blog • Industry News | eCommerce

Improving eCommerce website performance

Last updated: 21 Jun 2019

47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, with almost half of visitors potentially abandoning a website completely if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Pretty crazy, right? Yet still, many online retailers fall victim to slow page loads and generally poor performance across their whole website experience.

Let’s take a look at what affects website performance, how website performance impacts your eCommerce store and best practices for improving website performance.

 

What is website performance and why does it matter?

Website performance is a measure of how fast your website pages and their elements are loaded and displayed. Consumers these days expect convenience, speed, and seamless experiences. Optimizing the speed of items such as pages, images or files can have a huge impact on increasing customer loyalty, improving search rankings, and increasing sales.

Yet, web developers and online business owners tend to overlook page load times in their website development and design strategies. Which, you can’t blame them for, having to also consider other important issues like compatibility, feature requests, and security as a priority over what may be considered, nice-to-haves.

Speed = Standard expectation

The bar for how fast a website loads  is getting higher and higher. No matter where customers are browsing from, people expect web pages to load and they want them to load now. Website users create strong opinions when they think about speed.Not only does a fast site lead to a happy customer, but it also puts you in a professional bracket, where a customer is more likely to feel that your company is trustworthy and efficient.

Speed = Search results

In July 2018, Google updated their algorithm to include page speed as a major ranking factor, meaning if your site is slow, Google is less likely to push it up the rankings, resulting in potential loss of site traffic and therefore customers. In fact, studies show that speeding up your website increases organic traffic by 20%.

Speed = Sales

Having a fast eCommerce site is proven to be one of the most affordable investments your business can make. According to Sean Work, it only takes a 1 second page delay to result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Therefore, if your eCommerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

 

Architecture impacts website performance

In a nutshell, website performance comes down to how you set up your eCommerce architecture. Here are some of the things that may affect your site speed:

Caching - if you do not implement website caching, stores are inherently slow due to the website’s dependence on the eCommerce platform server to reload data every time a web page is refreshed. Serving a cached web page means there is no time wasted as load is removed  from the web server by serving pages that have already been visited by the customers, meaning no hard refresh each time.

Hosting - the hosting plan you choose can massively affect website performance. Many eCommerce platforms have specific technology requirements; and so, if you’re hosting your own platform, make sure you pick a plan that meets the criteria to ensure you don’t end up with speed issues.

Plugins - many plugins and extensions for platforms like Magento, Woocommerce, and Shopify can often be badly built and not maintained. They also often introduce additional database queries and processing which will further slow your site. The most common work-around is to only include extensions that are vital for your system, but this leaves you with a very limited choice of services you can use. For solutions like Moltin, who offer an integrations API, you are encouraged to integrate with best of breed solutions for your requirements to ensure everything you use has been fully optimized.

File types and sizes - unoptimized images, large file sizes, and certain file types can slow your website right down so it’s important you optimize them appropriately.


Building a site that performs (and converts)

There are many things you can do to help enhance site performance, and therefore, help to convert more visitors into paying customers. Here are a few quick wins that you should be able to achieve with most eCommerce solutions.

Site design - good design is one of the most important factors for high conversion rates. Picking a solution that gives you full control of how your storefront looks is so important. As part of your site design, make sure you not only consider aesthetics but also navigation, structure, and user experience.

Optimize images - as eCommerce sites are generally filled with high quality images and videos, it is crucial to optimize images to speed your storefront. You can either compress images before uploading to your store using PhotoShop, or we recommend using something similar like TinyPNG to do this.

SSL - when a customer goes to purchase a product from your store, they’re more than likely handing over personal, confidential details. Most eCommerce solutions let you install SSL out of the box which adds a layer of security to give your customers peace of mind.

Abandoned cart software - if your customers tend to add products to their basket but then never check out, make sure your eCommerce tech stack is equipped with cart abandonment software to entice users to come back to your store and complete the transaction.

Utilize Caching - typically, eCommerce solutions allow many forms forms of caching. These can be in-build caching modules, like what Magento offers or using third party caching services.

Implement a CDN - this will make sure you are serving assets, like product images, JavaScript, and CSS from multiple locations around the world to make them load faster for customers.

Run the latest version of your eCommerce platform - if you have a platform like Magento that must be updated, make sure you do just that. Updates will generally include bug fixes and performance enhancements.

Checkout flow - make sure your checkout flow is simple, as minimal as possible, and familiar to your customers to make it easy for them to buy.

Optimize for mobile - according to Statista, over 50% of retail purchases will be made via mobile by 2021. When choosing an eCommerce solution, make sure you pick one that makes it easy or provides functionality out of the box to optimize your store for mobile.

Did you know that the eCommerce platform you choose can also have an impact on the ease of improving website performance? Take a look at our deep dive into with eCommerce solution is best for website performance

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